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Old 31st March 2021, 05:35 PM   #1
David
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Default Bugis Keris

I have had this Bugis keris for some time, but have only recently gotten around to photographing it. I do have a few questions which i hope somebody might be able to help me with.
First is origin. I posted this recently on some other pages. The majority seemed to clearly believe this to be a Terengganu. But a reasonable minority seemed equally convinced it is from Sumatra. There do seem to be some conflicting elements present here, though i am convinced that the ensemble is original, not a mismatched marriage. So i am curious how this group sees it and why.
The hilt seems to be of marine origin. At least that is what i assume from the general look and the triangular root hole at the top. Anybody have opinions on the source? Sperm whale?
The form of this Jawa Deman seems to be bit of a hybrid. There are elements of pipit teleng, but it does seem not fully, with other influences at work. The overall shape looks different from the pipit teleng form. And the engraved markings seem unusual and unique for this style of hilt. The leaf pattern on the top of the head seems like it might have some symbolic significance, but i don't know what exactly. Anyone have a hilt like this one to compare?
The hilt is made with lovely chatoyant flashing grains. The string wrap on the stem seems odd for Terengganu though, but this is not an area i really know that much about. I frankly get a bit lost and confused with the Malay side of the keris world.
Thanks for your input.
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Old 31st March 2021, 06:41 PM   #2
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Here are just a couple more shots. Jean, i'd particularly interested in what you thing about this hilt.
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Old 31st March 2021, 08:29 PM   #3
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Hello David,
Lovely Bugis piece, congrats! I basically agree with what you say but I am also confused about its origin.
I would place it in Eastern Sumatra (Riau Lingga) but do not know much about Peninsular krisses so I cannot discard it as a possible origin.
The hilt is puzzling me indeed because of it unusual style, basically a anak ayam/ pipit teleng but with a floral decoration, spiral eyes, and protruding head like a Bugis rekko hilt! I show you my 2 closest pieces but they are different from yours.
Regarding the ivory type, I have noticed some parallel lines on the top side especially but they are not Retzius lines and the ivory aspect does not look to be from elephant. But the dotted line visible on the front side especially (with a colour change) calls for hippo ivory IMO, also the very smooth surface and absence of cracks. However the colour is a bit dark for hippo ivory.
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Old 31st March 2021, 09:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for your input Jean. The hilt does seem to be a bit of an enigma. A little bit each of different style as you have noted. Certainly it has good age as i think the patina shows. My first impressions brought be to Sumatra, but as i stated, in two separate keris pages i posted this on it was about 75% Terengganu or more to a minority claiming Sumatra. For what it is worth these were mostly the opinions of Indonesian collectors. I suppose it is possible that the sheath is what is swaying those assumptions. But like you my understanding of Peninsula keris is rather limited and i still have a lot of difficulty deducing the differences between Malay sheath forms. The blade itself seems a typical Bugis style so it does not, for me at least, reveal anything about origin. Could be from anywhere he Bugis settled which covers a bit of ground.
I noted the one dotted line down the front of the hilt and also wondered about hippo, but i have seen the open root hole on the top of hilts more often with whale teeth hilts so i wasn't sure. Regardless it has a wonderful color and consistency. I think the colour of ivory is very often caused by its environment so perhaps that is not necessarily a deciding factor in a determination of the material's source.
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Old 31st March 2021, 11:08 PM   #5
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That's a lovely piece!

I hope I'm not derailing where you intended your post to go David, but a couple of questions question to all:

- what is the name of the binding or thread wrap that covers the bottom half of the wrongko?
- was there a functional purpose for these or is it purely aesthetic?
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Old 31st March 2021, 11:18 PM   #6
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I do not know the name, if indeed there is some special name, but what I have noticed is that this binding seems to occur mostly on a gandar that is made in two pieces. Some two piece gandars have metal bands, this binding probably serves the purpose of keeping the two halves of the gandar together.
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Old 1st April 2021, 12:03 AM   #7
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Sampir is a typical boxy form from Terengganu, from the first half of 20th cent., more likely second quarter. Also the binding on Batang is quite often seen, I have two Terengganu Malela with such binding.

Pendokok is a genuinely Terengganu. The carving on hilt (and Buntut) is a little bit unusual, but the slanted head and overall form is typical for Terengganu.

The blade is only part, which isn' t distinctively from Terengganu. It lacks the "sweet" Luk typical for Terengganu and without dress could perhaps be given also Riau.
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Old 1st April 2021, 12:37 AM   #8
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Do the lines on the belly in the OP example and Jeans second have any meaning? I have noticed them on other keris lately and have been curious.
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Old 1st April 2021, 05:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagabuwana
That's a lovely piece!

I hope I'm not derailing where you intended your post to go David, but a couple of questions question to all:

- what is the name of the binding or thread wrap that covers the bottom half of the wrongko?
- was there a functional purpose for these or is it purely aesthetic?
You could not possibly derail the thread with such questions. In fact they were ones i was already considering that i hadn't asked.
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Old 1st April 2021, 07:21 AM   #10
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What a beauty! 😍😍😍
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Old 1st April 2021, 09:04 AM   #11
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Well, the kris origin is most probably Terengganu as indicated by Gustav, as the style of the scabbard, hilt, and pendokok are not typically Indonesian indeed.
Regarding the ivory species, the open crack on the top seems to be part of the intersticial line found on hippo ivory. However I never noticed such parallel lines either on hippo ivory or spermwhale ivory.
Regards
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Old 1st April 2021, 02:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Well, the kris origin is most probably Terengganu as indicated by Gustav, as the style of the scabbard, hilt, and pendokok are not typically Indonesian indeed.
Regarding the ivory species, the open crack on the top seems to be part of the intersticial line found on hippo ivory. However I never noticed such parallel lines either on hippo ivory or spermwhale ivory.
Regards
I was specifically asking about the carved lines on the abdominal area. I guessed they were representative of a sarong (at first I thought wooden armor but I believe that it is usually orientated horizontally). Ruling out armor, my curiosity was aimed specifically at was there a cloth pattern these lines were designed to imitate?

Jean, now that you have mentioned the grain pattern of the material, on your second example, are the lines I see on the "face" of the demam figure the ones you are referring to? Is this an example that you referred to as hippo ivory in a hilt book? Or are you talking about the lines on the top of the head of the OP? Those are an end grain pattern, no?
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Old 1st April 2021, 04:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party
Jean, now that you have mentioned the grain pattern of the material, on your second example, are the lines I see on the "face" of the demam figure the ones you are referring to? Is this an example that you referred to as hippo ivory in a hilt book? Or are you talking about the lines on the top of the head of the OP? Those are an end grain pattern, no?
Jean is referring to the line with the black dots that runs down the center front of the hilt over the center of the arm. This is often considered an indication of hippo origin. Here is another hilt with a similar dotted line.
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Old 1st April 2021, 04:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party
I was specifically asking about the carved lines on the abdominal area. I guessed they were representative of a sarong (at first I thought wooden armor but I believe that it is usually orientated horizontally). Ruling out armor, my curiosity was aimed specifically at was there a cloth pattern these lines were designed to imitate?
I have always assumed this was simply a design feature meant to create a sense of depth by allowing the eye to recede. Here is another example on another Peninsula hilt. If this is representational of clothing or armour or symbolic of anything in particular i am not aware.
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Old 1st April 2021, 05:03 PM   #15
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Thank you David and I agree with what you said.
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Old 1st April 2021, 06:23 PM   #16
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I'm sure there are others who can speak more authoritatively on this but I think that the pendokok on David's keris is of the gelugor type, mainly used in Terengganu region. These are named after the gelugor fruit.

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 1st April 2021, 09:16 PM   #17
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Here is another keris identified as Terengganu that was posted on the forum a while back that shows the same use of string wrapping around the bottom of the sheath stem. Just thought i'd add it for reference. It does seem the the real enigma here is this extraordinary hilt.
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Old 1st April 2021, 10:16 PM   #18
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I don't see much of an enigma in this hilt. As David Henkel once wrote, there was a craze in those days for innovation and hybrid styles around in Terengganu and Kelantan in 1920-1940.

It is quite clearly a Pipit Teleng hilt, all the main features (more or less bulging eyes together with the "chickens comb" etc.) are here, some planes being filled out and some lines accentuated with floral carvings.

If there are deviances in overall form, they might be dictated by the size and shape of the piece of ivory used, especially if marine ivory is used (and limitations of the maker - the floral carvings are not of the best quality, the posture stiff).
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Old 3rd April 2021, 09:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
I don't see much of an enigma in this hilt. As David Henkel once wrote, there was a craze in those days for innovation and hybrid styles around in Terengganu and Kelantan in 1920-1940.

It is quite clearly a Pipit Teleng hilt, all the main features (more or less bulging eyes together with the "chickens comb" etc.) are here, some planes being filled out and some lines accentuated with floral carvings.

If there are deviances in overall form, they might be dictated by the size and shape of the piece of ivory used, especially if marine ivory is used (and limitations of the maker - the floral carvings are not of the best quality, the posture stiff).
Gustav, most of the Pipit Teleng hilts that i am familiar with do not, in fact, have bulging eyes. Sometimes there are some simple markings to delineate eyes, often there are no eyes at all. So i do not see bulging eyes as a common trait for Pipit Teleng at all. Also strange that you consider the posture "stiff" on this example. Mine has much more shape and curviness to it than most of the Pipit Teleng hilts i have seen, especially at the base and in the crossed arm. Frankly i find the posture for most Pipit Teleng to be rather stiff in general and this one seem more fluid to my eye that the more pure form Pipit Teleng forms. Perhaps you could show us some examples of Pipit Teleng hilts with bulging eyes and a less stiff form.
I do agree that the floral carvings are not "high quality", but they are unusual to this form and to my tastes, adding a level of personality and character to this hilt. I do believe that "enigma" was not quite the right word for what i was trying to express, but this hilt is unique and unusual to me. As i expressed in my opening post, if you have another hilt like it please post because i want to see it.
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Old 4th April 2021, 04:39 PM   #20
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David, i'm glad you noticed my post this time

Of course it's nice to have a Peninsular ivory hilt, as they are seldom, and old ivory Anak Ayam / Pipit Teleng hilts are even more seldom (moreover with ornamentation).

Why?

Because Malay carvers primary material and medium of expression was wood. What it means is very well described in the first chapter of "Spirit of Wood" by Farish A. Noor, "The Cult of Wood".

Why I nevertheless wrote, I don't see much enigma in your hilt? Because it (almost surely) comes from a time period, where such experiments, search for novelty was en voque. There are much more awesome examples of this craze then yours, but - for this time period they are "normal".

Why I described your example as stiff in posture and how an antique, good example of Hulu Pipit Teleng looks alike? Actually to found pictures of good specimens on internet is equally difficult as to find pictures of genuine old Terengganu Keris blades of good quality. The best examples are only average (including both of my Pipit Teleng). Perhaps the best source of old higher quality Peninsular Keris and their hilts were the richly illustrated posts of David Henkel in the now gone UBB Forum and especially his site "Keris Archipelago", also gone long time ago.

Pipit Teleng simply is the most dynamic Peninsular hilt form. In a good hilt there should be three bends in three different directions, this form is literally three dimensional. It is very difficult to made a hilt where these bends are well balanced, correspond to each other and make out an absolutely organic overall shape (which feels so well in the hand).

At first, an old drawing, it could be from Gardner's book, but I am not sure as I don't own it. Number 2 is Pipit Teleng, with "chickens comb", eyes protruding or marked as spirals and the typical distinctive small "Garuda Mungkur" shield on the back.
Also attached two pictures (courtesy by Shahrial Tahar) of a Sumatran hilt form, from which Pipit Teleng derived. The main elements are there, but it is absolutely not "Teleng". For a Pipit Teleng hilt I would call it "absolutely stiff".
Also attached four pictures of a well carved antique Pipit Teleng hilt, perhaps the best regarding the overall flow of masses.
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Old 4th April 2021, 05:04 PM   #21
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Two another wooden examples, and for comparison an old ivory one. The ivory one is almost not "teleng" (more like a regular Java Demam), also the angle of the head part to main body is completeley different, much smaller (more upright)and is quite similar to David's hilt. Note the attempt to carve floral ornament on one arm. There is a feeling of this hilt being either very worn or more likely not really finished, and perhaps one also feels carvers unfamiliarity with material and the size limitations. The attempt to carve extra decoration may be a compensation for the lack of would grain, which normally would animate the plains.

I would call this ivory hilt stiff.
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Old 4th April 2021, 05:20 PM   #22
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Please note the area above the hand on the chest of the figure. This is the only place where David's hilt doesn't follow the common iconographical scheme of a Pipit Teleng hilt. There is a possibility of a mistaken cut by carver, which was covered by making the arm thinner by omitting the three folds (?) above it (compare with the other examples) and continuing the vertical indentation, but in different angle. The whole area looks revised and perhaps a little bit unconvincing in comparison.
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Old 4th April 2021, 05:35 PM   #23
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A couple of recently carved examples, two woodden ones and an ivory one, all acurately carved, but stiff compared to the old wooden hilts. The ivory one is quite good work, the angle of the head to body is right, but the head noticeably to short - again possibly the limitation of the material size. I think, I must not explain further what I mean with bulging, or perhaps better, protruding eyes.

The last picture is the only one available of a Pipit Teleng hilt on a Keris Malela blade. As the blade could possibly be antique, the same could go for hilt. One can judge only the "teleng" angle of the head from that picture, but it's a good one.
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Old 4th April 2021, 05:46 PM   #24
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At least, I must say, photographing such multiply bent and twisted objects like Pipit Teleng hilts is very difficult (to give viewer a possibility to judge the overall shape from a couple of pictures), and for a viewer to get an idea of a complete object from a couple of pictures also requires considerable skill.
The best is to handle and compare them in the hand.

Here a couple of pictures of mine. These are only average quality, one has fancier grain, but the other is a bit better carved regarding the flow of masses.
Almost unperceptible in pictures, noticeable in hand.
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Last edited by Gustav; 4th April 2021 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 4th April 2021, 06:39 PM   #25
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Very interesting Gustav, thanks! We can clearly see the differences with the East Sumatran hilts.

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Old 4th April 2021, 08:29 PM   #26
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Thanks Gustav for posting all these fine examples of Pipit Teleng hilts. To be clear, while i did not respond to your first post on this thread, i most certainly saw it. Forgive me for not responded, but by the time you had posted i had already come to most of the conclusions you were making and then became distracted from other posts and questions.
I agree that your use of the word "bulging" to describe the eyes of most Pipit Teleng is a bit misplaced. But i would even refrain from using the term "protruding". The eyes are indeed raised a bit from the surface in many of your examples, but they don't jump out at you as i would expect something described as bulging or even protruding would. They are simply delineated is a relief manner.
I do think it strange that you seem to be so dismissive of this keris because it is not the perfected Pipit Teleng form you seem to so admire. For me that is part of its charm and frankly i would take my hilt over any of the other Pipit Teleng hilts you have chosen to show here. It has a spirit and personality that the others lack for me. Truth be told, i actually don't generally like the Pipit Teleng form. To my eye it usually comes off as awkward and uncomfortable and yes, stiff. But i do quite enjoy mine. And i am sure that there are indeed many more awesome examples of these hilts from this "experimental" time period, but you have not shown any of those examples here so i would still hope that someone can present another hilt that i can truly compare with this one. I am not looking for the perfect example of the Pipit Teleng form as you seem to be, so the ways in which mine does not fulfill this ideal are really unimportant to me. If this hilt is "unconvincing" to you it doesn't really matter. And no, i don't think this hilt looks the way it does because of a carver's error or his inability to work well with ivory. I think it simply is what it is. So i would still like to see other hilts like it, because i don't believe anything you have posted compares well with it, especially when it comes to the spiral eyes and floral motifs it presents.
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Old 4th April 2021, 08:44 PM   #27
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David, it seems I failed to express myself again, my apologies.

For the last time - your hilt surely is unique, one of a kind, from a time period, where many unique, one of a kind hilts were made, in different forms, mixing different forms together, embellishing different forms with carvings not previously seen with these forms.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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Old 4th April 2021, 09:44 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
David, it seems I failed to express myself again, my apologies.

For the last time - your hilt surely is unique, one of a kind, from a time period, where many unique, one of a kind hilts were made, in different forms, mixing different forms together, embellishing different forms with carvings not previously seen with these forms.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Maybe it is i who has failed to express myself Gustav.
Just about all figurative hilts are unique and one of a kind. I am aware that there was indeed a particular "experimental" period when these kinds of hilts were made. I would like to see others to compare the kinds of embellishments this period produced with this particular hilt form.
And yes, indeed beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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Old 4th April 2021, 11:30 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Maybe it is i who has failed to express myself Gustav.
Just about all figurative hilts are unique and one of a kind. I am aware that there was indeed a particular "experimental" period when these kinds of hilts were made. I would like to see others to compare the kinds of embellishments this period produced with this particular hilt form.
And yes, indeed beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I didn't notice I was speaking about all figurative hilts - that's a bit to much to handle, even for the little old me.
As I have no particular interest in this kind of esthetics from that period, maybe some other person more knowledgeable as myself could take up the job here from this point on.

Just one last remark, not related to the hilt issue - judging from pictures it seems there could be a whiff of a possibility the blade and sheath are a later marriage.

Last edited by Gustav; 4th April 2021 at 11:49 PM.
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Old 5th April 2021, 03:32 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
I didn't notice I was speaking about all figurative hilts - that's a bit to much to handle, even for the little old me.
As I have no particular interest in this kind of esthetics from that period, maybe some other person more knowledgeable as myself could take up the job here from this point on.

Just one last remark, not related to the hilt issue - judging from pictures it seems there could be a whiff of a possibility the blade and sheath are a later marriage.
Gustav, my remark was in regards to your acknowledgement that my hilt was indeed "unique" and "one of a kind". I was not asking you to speak about all figurative hilt, only pointing out the obvious that for the most part they all tend to be one of a kind by their very nature.
You seem to have spent a great deal of time posting about a keris hilt that you have no particular interest in. LOL! I don't believe anyone was twisting your arm to contribute any information here. As you have pointed out, i didn't even respond to your first post. Nor have you been asked at anytime to "take up the job" of being the sole supplier of information on my keris. You have made it clear that you don't particularly care for it. That's fine. Again, as you yourself pointed out, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I really don't take that personally, but it is curious that even up to your very last note you seem to want to dismiss the integrity of this keris that myself and many others both on this site as well as two others i have posted it on seem to very much appreciate. To alleviate your suspicions i can tell you that i am 100% sure the sheath was made specifically for this blade.
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